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Here are 8 board games to distract your family with this Thanksgiving

Here are 8 board games to distract your family with this Thanksgiving


Turn off your TV and enjoy some actual human interaction!

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Catan board game / paul miller (STOCK)

The holidays are a good time to unplug and partake in activities that don't involve a room full of people blankly staring at a screen for hours on end. If you want to spend some quality time with your loved ones this Thanksgiving, what better way to do it then by crushing them enjoying some friendly competition in a variety of board games? 

Here are our top picks of games to play this holiday:


Fluxx is a fun card game, with rules that are — as the name implies — constantly in flux[x]. A round of Fluxx starts simply: each player draws one card and plays one card on their turn. But as the game progresses, new objectives and modifiers get chaotically thrown around. Rules change from turn to turn and the way to win shifts constantly, making sure that no two games are ever quite the same. Plus, in addition to the standard edition, Fluxx comes in a whole host of themed versions, ranging from pirates to science fiction to licensed properties such as Batman, Monty Python, and Firefly. 

Fluxx is available pretty much anywhere board games are sold (including Amazon). Try mixing cards from different sets for extra craziness!


Catan CU (promo image)

Catan is the undisputed king of board games, and for good reason. The perfect mix of luck and skill, Catan's resource gathering and settlement-building gameplay loop has enthralled an entire generation of board game fans. So whether your strategy is to go all-in on buying development cards or hope to conquer the island of Catan by building a monopoly on sheep, Catan is the perfect game for the holidays. The default game allows for three or four players, with an addition to add up that number to five or six. And if you're bored of the base game, there's tons of expansions such as Seafarers, Cities & Knights, and Traders & Barbarians that can wildly change the game. 

Catan is available pretty much anywhere board games are sold (including Amazon). There are a bunch of expansions, but the base game and five / six player expansion are a good place to start.


Available as either a physical card game or smartphone application, Spaceteam is, at its core, a game about fixing a spaceship. The actual methodology for going about doing that, however, requires you to work in a team by fixing malfunctions. Unlike most of the games on this list, Spaceteam is cooperative — so everyone either saves the ship and wins together, or loses as a group. What that actually comes down to is a table full of people shouting ridiculous technobabble at each other as you all try to coordinate who has the correct part or tool to deal with the issue at hand.  

Spaceteam (the card game) is available on Amazon, while the smartphone app is free on iOS and Android.


Carcassonne is the other big name German-style board game you'll usually see thrown around. Like Catan, it favors indirect competition and a focus on skill over random chance, although luck plays a strong factor as well. The gameplay is easy to pick up, especially for younger players — just pick up a tile, and add it to build out the board. Points are scored by claiming cities, roads, cloisters, and fields, but each player only has a limited number of pieces to use, making it a complex strategic decision of where and when to play them. 

Carcassonne is available pretty much anywhere board games are sold (including Amazon). There are also a bunch of expansions that you can get if you’re looking to change things up.


Splendor is a chip-collecting / card game where your goal is to create magnificent jewelry. How you actually go about doing that is by collecting chips (gemstones) and using them to acquire development cards that are each worth different points and add more gemstones to your income. It's got a great Renaissance-inspired theme and art style, and clever gameplay that quickly snowballs into an all-out race as you and your opponents try to accumulate the most points first. 

Splendor is available pretty much anywhere board games are sold (including Amazon). It does not actually contain real gems.


The holidays can be a hectic time, and sometimes it's nice to take a bit of a breather. Tokaido is the most relaxing board game I've ever played, with beautiful artwork inspired by traditional Japanese watercolors. The game consists of tranquilly traveling across Japan's famous East Sea Road, but don't let the calm style of the art fool you — it's also a game of surprising deep strategy as you compete to build stunning panoramas, visit temples, and feast upon local delicacies on your travels. 

Tokaido is available pretty much anywhere board games are sold (including Amazon). There’s also two expansions, and a super fancy deluxe version.

Exploding Kittens

The Kickstarter darling that features art from Matthew Inman's popular webcomic The Oatmeal, Exploding Kittens is a game about kittens that explode. Described as a sort of cat-based take on Russian Roulette, players draw cards and hope to avoid an Exploding Kitten, which takes them out of the game. Of course, there are tons of other cards that don't feature volatile felines, that add to the complexity and challenge of the game. A fun mix of wacky and weird to spice up your Thanksgiving.  

Exploding Kittens is available on Amazon.


letterpress lighter 2

Look, everyone is probably going to be on their phones the whole time anyway. And if that's the case, why not also play Letterpress, a classic iOS game where you and a friend alternate turns and claim tiles by spelling words. The app was recently updated, adding chat (for trash talking about the amazing word you just spelled) and removing many of the paid restrictions on the game, making it the perfect time to play. 

Letterpress is a free download for iOS.


Actually, on second thought, maybe just skip playing Charades. No one actually ever wants to play Charades. Maybe pick something else on this list instead?